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Macromedia and Java: Serving the Best User Experience, by Kevin Lynch

Macromedia's mission is to improve the user experience on the Web. While it's best known for its Web authoring and media playback solutions, it's also committed to the viability and importance of Java as a platform for servers and has invested heavily in Java technology for two of its products, Dreamweaver UltraDev and Generator. Macromedia feels that the integration of authoring, playback, and server capabilities is key to creating the best user experience.

Dreamweaver UltraDev is the first Web development solution to enable the visual authoring of dynamic applications using JavaServer Pages. Generator, a server-side solution for delivering dynamic visual content, is built on, and can be extended, using Java.

UltraDev builds on the core architecture of Dreamweaver and adds intuitive application development features for Java developers. The product was created to be sensitive to the needs of developers. It not only protects and preserves the integrity of your application code, but can also be taught to write code the way you prefer. For most developers the underlying code is as important as the visual impact the site has on visitors. UltraDev enables developers to concentrate on delivering a great user experience by easily connecting back-end code to front-end design. It lets JSP developers take full advantage of JavaBeans authored by other team members, enabling them to tweak the final design without breaking the underlying code.

The program itself has resources to make Java developers even more productive. UltraDev provides context-sensitive JSP code reference materials within the product through a partnership with Wrox Press and its Professional JSP book. Developers can, for example, highlight an object in their JSP code, then click a button. The reference material for that object will open up in the code reference panel. Developers can also extend the functionality of their JSP pages by creating reusable JSP scripts with the product's server behavior builder, teaching UltraDev to code the way they do.

The JSP reference materials, as well as many JSP scripts created or modified with UltraDev, are available on the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver UltraDev, a community Web site that enables developers to extend the functionality of their product through extensions written by developers and other third parties. Since its introduction in April, the Macromedia Exchange has enabled more than 350 available extensions to be downloaded more than 2,000,000 times by Web professionals.

Generator is an enterprise server solution for producing, delivering, and personalizing real-time visual Web site graphics. It's used by leading e-businesses such as Forbes.com, Compaq, Ford.com, OpinionLab, ru4, and Hallmark.com. These companies use Generator to separate design from content to deliver visually rich information that can be easily updated.

Macromedia Flash is the authoring environment for building Generator templates. The Flash Player is installed on 96% of Web desktops; developers can deploy Flash content and be assured that the largest installed base of any Web technology is able to experience it instantly. Through a wide variety of Generator objects, developers can choose the perfect visual display of information for their users. Data can be presented in scrolling lists, charts, graphics, tables, and a variety of graphic formats. The Generator server allows developers to quickly and reliably process, composite, and build Web graphics from template files, data sources, and external graphic resources.

A portion of Generator server is written in Java. When you install Generator, the Java Runtime Engine (JRE) and Allaire JRun are also installed to provide Generator with Java components to execute. Generator uses Java for two primary purposes: initiating generation and acquiring data from external sources.

When initiating Generator, a Java Servlet engine allows Generator to pass information to and from the Web server via the Java Servlet protocol. Java and Java Servlets are used to trigger Generator from a Web server or from the offline Generator application. Macromedia chose Java servlets for their high performance, reliability, and flexibility. Like other Web server APIs, such as CGI and Netscape Server API (NSAPI), the Java Servlet API from JavaSoft offers a way to extend the functionality of Web servers.

Generator offers flexibility to your Web application when accessing Java data sources. Data can be directly accessed through a result set from a SQL query passed through JDBC/ODBC, Java class files, or other formats.

Macromedia partners with leading technology companies that support Java to ensure that its authoring tools integrate with the latest technologies and third-party solutions. In addition to its multiyear partnerships with Sun and Allaire, Macromedia also has close relationships with ATG, BEA, BroadVision, IBM, and Vignette to provide development tool support for their Java solutions.

Macromedia is committed to the Java platform to ensure that its developers can deliver the most effective and engaging Web content possible using their technologies of choice, and can use Java wherever it's appropriate as they continue to define what the Web can be.

Author Bio
Kevin Lynch is president of Macromedia Products. He joined Macromedia in 1996 and has been instrumental in forming its Web strategy. As president of products, Kevin is responsible for developing Macromedia's award-winning family of software and solutions.


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